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9 Apr 2013

Benefit thief Dawn Orton told to repay £38,000

More on Dawn Orton.

A WOMAN who went on the run to Spain after stealing benefits has been ordered to pay back £38,000.

Mum-of-two Dawn Orton, 47, sparked an international warrant for her arrest after she was convicted of benefit fraud at Hull Crown Court in her absence for going on the run with her lover.

Now, Orton, already serving 12 months, has been ordered to repay more than £38,000 to the taxpayer.

The court heard she used the money to fund up to four luxury holidays a year and drove a high-performance car. The benefit cheat falsely claimed incapacity benefit despite skiing, playing badminton and "erotic dancing".

Now, under the Proceeds of Crime Act, she has been ordered to repay more than £38,000 from her criminal activities.

Orton has been given six months to repay the money or face another 12 months in prison.

Recorder Brian Cox QC said: "I declare the benefit sum is £38,320.87. There will be six months to repay it."

Orton was found hiding in Spain after defrauding taxpayers out of £29,000 by failing to declare she was in a relationship with a partner for more than 13 years.

But, subsequently, it was discovered she had been claiming incapacity benefit despite playing badminton for a club in Cottingham and going skiing, defrauding the public of more than £100,000.

She failed to attend Hull Crown Court to stand trial for a second time and the judge ordered an international warrant to find her.

Orton, of Cottingham, had written to the court to say she was on holiday and was jailed for 12 months.

In her absence, she was convicted of an extensive benefit fraud.

Orton flew home and handed herself over to police after reading the Mail's website and discovering a warrant was out for her arrest.

Judge Jeremy Richardson QC previously told her: "I brand you an extremely foolish woman. You have brought this on yourself.

"You decided to bury your head in the sand. You were in Spain with your new lover and you elected to prioritise your relationship with him ahead of your responsibility in coming to this court."

When her husband died in 1996, Orton was given the chance to claim widowed mothers' allowance instead of incapacity benefit as it was a larger sum.

But, within a year, she had moved in with her new partner Mark Lissimore in Cottingham and failed to declare she was no longer single.

After 13 years of living with Mr Lissimore, she eloped to the US with a new partner and her offending came to light.

Orton then moved to Spain and refused to return for her trial.

Mr Lissimore, a former Cottingham shopkeeper, went to court to see his former partner jailed.

He said: "We were together for 13 years and I never knew about this. She told me she was off on a short holiday and never came back.

"All these brown envelopes started arriving and, finally, I opened them and discovered this."

Orton was convicted of defrauding the taxpayer out of £29,000, which was the difference between the incapacity benefit she was originally claiming and the widowed mothers' allowances she had illegally obtained.

The Department of Work and Pensions is now investigating her incapacity claims.

The court heard she has claimed more than £100,000 for incapacity benefit for her shoulder injury, despite playing sports and skiing.

Under the proceeds of crime act, she will now have to sell her assets and use her savings to repay the money she falsely claimed from the public purse.

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